What a Weekend!

To say we enjoyed a fun weekend is the understatement of the season – which is a very good report to give! Beginning last Thursday, Angel Girl won her volleyball match in 2 sets (a first for her team), she cheered her 7th grade football players to victory, and SonShine had 3 fabulous receptions in his district win. On Friday night, Mommaw came to town, us girls had a mini-shopping spree, and SonShine had a blast working for the high school coaches during the varsity win.

And then we got to Saturday.

Saturdays are pretty important in our home. College football fanfare and the boys of fall take on a new meaning when Dad is also Coach. I know that I am his truest love, but let’s face it, football was his very first love. Watching Coach coach fills my heart with this warm, gooey, lovey-dovey pride. He puts so much pressure on himself, and he works harder than I could ever relate to you. He sleeps very little, he sacrifices very much, his time with his own two kids is terribly limited, and he misses tons of important events. He is slow to take credit and quick to blame himself for every mis-step, botched play, or 3-and-out. And he loves every second of it. The competition, the strategy of the chess match, the boys who face the battle (I guess since they are 18-23 years old, stand well over 6 feet tall, and weigh 200+ pounds I could call them “men” but to us they are Coach’s boys), the tempo, the intensity, the methodology, and the celebration – they all call to Coach, and I love that he gets to do what he loves every single day.

This past Saturday was especially fun: our team was hitting on all cylinders, we won big, we became bowl eligible, and we moved up significantly in the rankings.

Phrase for the day: "We goin' bowling!!"

Phrase for the day: “We goin’ bowling!!”

And as fun as it all was, I have to say that the very best part of this past weekend did not occur on a football field…it happened at the pumpkin patch!

Almost 9 years ago, Mommaw and I were driving SonShine and Angel Girl to watch Coach’s game when we spotted an adorable little pumpkin stand on the side of the road. We pulled in, let the kids explore, and they picked out pumpkins to take home. In the process, I captured some really precious pictures that are priceless and dear to me.

Fall 2004: SonShine was 6 and Angel Girl had just turned 4

Fall 2004: SonShine was 6 and Angel Girl had just turned 4

Coach's biggest - and cutest -fans since way back...

Coach’s biggest – and cutest – fans since way back…

Needless to say, they indulged my whim. Being goofball teenagers this go around was even more fun than our first visit all those years ago. We were only there about 30 or 45 minutes, but those were by far the best, most enjoyable minutes of my weekend, and with the amazing weekend we just had, that is saying a lot!!

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As my sweet friend, Ilsa, says, “Enjoy today – it is a gift!”

Dinner During the Daytime

I haven’t done any meal planning in a while – our schedule is so insane that we are rarely home early enough in the evening to actually sit down to a nice dinner (by the time we make it home from practices, games, and activities it is 8 pm – or later – and everyone has already found something to eat elsewhere).  I’m hoping to do a little strategizing this afternoon, but in the meantime, I cooked dinner just to guarantee that we actually eat home cooking at our dining table that resides in our house.  Tonight!

I even sampled it (just to be on the safe side), and it was really, really, really good.  So, of course, I am sharing 🙂

Enjoy!!

I had a gorgeous salmon filet that needed to be used, so I started in a very helpful cookbook that my big sis gave me years ago:IMG_5882

I found a baked salmon recipe that looked good, and then I modified it for what I had on hand.
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Instead of the dried apricots, I used a mix of dried fruit that needed to be used up from the pantry, I omitted the water chestnuts, I used lemon juice instead of lime, and I substituted Worcestershire for soy.  I added some onion slices for extra flavor which had a built-in bonus of using it up before fur starts growing on top of its layers.
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Chopping the dried fruit was a sticky, messy irritation, so I just threw them in the pot “as is” and set it to simmer. For a side, I steamed some fresh broccoli that also needed to be used up (Is it just me, or is there a repetitive theme here?  Hey, at least I attempted to buy healthy foods last week!).
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While those were on the cooktop, I got the salmon laid into the baking dish, tossed in the sliced onion, and seasoned it with my standby trio: salt, pepper, and seasoned salt.
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At this point I wasn’t sure if it would be edible, but it smelled AMAZING!!
After the fruit had simmered sufficiently, I poured it over the salmon and baked for about 25 minutes…just until the meat of the fish was flaky so that it stayed nice and moist.  I also sliced a half a tomato (that was needing to be used up, too), and heated up a little left-over corn that was in the fridge (that needed to blah blah blah).
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So, here is my finished product, aka: LUNCH.  I have to admit, I hit a homerun on this one; the veggies were the perfect compliment to the juicy salmon, and the dried fruit blended with the onion just right!
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I think I will also set out some grapes and dinner rolls for the kids’ dinner tonight – Coach works extra late making playcards on Thursday nights, so these pics are as close to this scrumptious meal as he will get 😦  Sorry, Coach.  But ILY!!

I have to say, making dinner during the daytime was fun.  Best of all, I have a real supper ready and waiting for the kids once we are done with football tonight!  I may just have to make this a regular thing 😉

PS:  On a side note, check out these grapes…they are plump, crispy, and oh so sweet.  I don’t worry too much about buying organic stuff, but lately I’ve been purchasing the organic grapes (mainly because the non-organic bundles were turning brown and mushy at the store so I knew they would not last long at home).  I know the organics are a little more expensive, but I am amazed at the difference in these grapes.  There are lots of produce items that I can’t see much change between organic and non, but I encourage you to try these little suckers – they are THAT good!
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Feeling Challenged

I’ve been wanting to write for a while, but I’ve had so many thoughts running amuck in my mind that none of them have seemed worthy of your time.  The following may not qualify either, so feel free to click off at any moment…

Here lately I have been feeling very challenged.  Challenged to change my parenting style when it comes to my kids’ schooling, challenged to stay positive in spite of frustrations that I am sure we all share, and challenged to even get up and get going each day when all I really want is to have lazy, do-nothing days with my precious family.  Maybe this will help to explain it a little better:

I’ve always been a bit of a hard-nosed, educational snob who cracked the proverbial whip at my kids by setting extra high expectations, albeit ones they are capable of surpassing.  I have always tried to teach them by example, things like out-of-the-box thinking, beyond-the-necessary creativity, and a love for information-seeking discovery.  I still think all those “things” are critical to success beyond grade school and imperative to being a well-rounded, knowledgable, lifelong learner, but I’m forcing myself to back off a little and give them a break from the driving force called Mom.  Today’s FB post with link to a WSJ article says it all:

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Suddenly, success feels futile.  I am tired of working so hard, and I am tired of seeing my kids stress and worry and stay up too late doing loads of homework just to keep up and yet never feeling like they actually learned a thing.  I am tired.

To be fair, I must say that not every teacher they have is spinning them on a hamster wheel.  In fact, a few are quite amazing, and I pray that their impact outlasts the fatigue we all feel.  I just wish that educators (myself being one) could tattoo the following somewhere highly visible so that it never leaves their minds:

Advanced learning comes from deeper teacher, not faster teaching…the art of discovery is a beautiful thing!

I feel challenged to stay positive because I feel like being all “rah rah, life is perfect” 24/7 is living a lie.  I am not always pleased with the world around me, but if I ever reveal that, then I am being too critical, too negative, and too vocal.  I used to believe that I could improve the world, but as they say, “with age comes wisdom,” and my advancing years are telling me that this world does not want to improve.  Rather, it wants a pat on the back and a gold star for the status quo.  No one wants to hear recommendations nor suggestions for improving.  Rather than seeing those as an opportunity to do better, people see them as mean and rude and negative.  I find that pretty sad.  In my years of teaching, practicing real estate, and direct selling, I felt desperate for feedback and ideas to make myself even better because I did not feel threatened; I never thought that getting help meant I was a failure.  I knew I had talents, and I also knew I had weaknesses.  For the life of me, I don’t understand why people today are too defensive to accept help??

So, I’ve given up my role as Lead Academic Parent, and I am forcing myself into silence when I really want to help those around me, so I’m left with a strong desire to never leave home.  As in, after the kids leave for school, I really just want to climb back in bed, nap, read, watch some TV, and pretend like the rest of the world does not involve me in any way, shape, or form.  I want to spend days on end with my amazing Coach, these two kids who are the greatest gift I’ve ever received, and be complete and utter homebodies!

But that’s even more sad than anything else I’ve written about here today, so I am determined not to let myself become THAT stay-at-home-bonbon-eating-soap-opera-loving-beached-whale-of-a-mom.  And since it is October 1st (I am numbers girl, remember?  I like starting and stopping on meaningful days!), and since I am already feeling so challenged, I might as well challenge myself in a few good ways…

#1:  30 Day Ab Challenge

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#2:  30 Day Squat Challenge

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#3: October Unprocessed Challenge

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These are just three of the hundreds of thousands of similar self-challenges to be found with a 0.3 second Google search; they’re just the first three that caught my eye.  They appear to be doable and doable at home (since I’m currently opposed to functioning in the big world…). My plan is to add in some Zumba and maybe even a walk or two with my crazy dogs or even crazier kids.

In 30 + 3 days I’ll be celebrating yet another birthday – With you as my witness, I challenge myself to do it with a healthy body, a healthy mind, and a healthy attitude.

Here’s to the next 30 days…may they be as challenging as the last 😉